Coben Does it again

Forbes - - FACT & COMMENT -

Har­lan Coben is the Babe Ruth—or, since he’s a bas­ket­ball fan, the Michael Jor­dan/stephen Curry/lebron James— of mys­tery-thriller writ­ers. His new­est grand slam—er, three-pointer—is Don’t Let Go (Dut­ton, $28). Its pro­tag­o­nist is a sub­ur­ban New Jersey de­tec­tive who has been haunted for years by the strange death of his twin brother and the brother’s girl­friend, along with the si­mul­ta­ne­ous dis­ap­pear­ance of his own girl­friend, who had just in­ex­pli­ca­bly bro­ken up with him when he thought they would even­tu­ally get mar­ried. Why did she van­ish with­out a trace? As you would ex­pect from a Coben clas­sic, the quest for the truth leads to more—and ever more dan­ger­ous—ques­tions that take the plot through mind-bend­ing twists and turns and keep the reader glued to the pages un­til the end.

What sets the de­tec­tive off on this men­ac­ing odyssey is the news that his once-very-sig­nif­i­cant-other’s fin­ger­prints have been found in a sus­pected mur­derer’s rental car. Vi­o­lence, mur­der, an ul­tra­se­cret gov­ern­ment pro­gram and more come to­gether to make for a har­row­ing jour­ney for our pro­tag­o­nist.

Ernest Hem­ing­way could have learned a tip or two from Coben’s di­rect and punchy writ­ing style. And Coben deftly in­ter­sperses his ac­tion se­quences with ob­ser­va­tions about hu­man be­hav­ior, such as when the de­tec­tive has to de­liver hor­ri­ble news: “Some claim that the first step in the griev­ing process is de­nial. … I have found the op­po­site to be true: The first step is com­plete and im­me­di­ate com­pre­hen­sion.”

Adding to my de­light in this novel is that a piece of the ac­tion takes place right next to my home­town.

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